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Benefits of Estate Planning for Unmarried California Couples

07/03/2023 | Estate Planning
Estate Planning For Unmarried California Couples

Unmarried partners may not think they need legal documents defining their end-of-life plans. Thorough estate planning for unmarried couples can protect everyone’s wishes after they pass. As unregistered domestic partners, you must take extra steps to protect your asset division and child guardianship directives. 

At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, our estate planning attorneys offer comprehensive, stress-free legal advice for unmarried couples.

Reasons Unmarried Couples Still Need Estate Plans

The law favors legally married couples. If you or your spouse passes without an estate plan, the court will decide who assumes all of your assets and who will care for your children. Leaving such decisions up to fate can feel unfair and result in serious consequences. 

By creating your estate plan, you and your partner can enjoy the following advantages:

1. You Can Create a Domestic Partnership To Enjoy Various Benefits

California offers fairly relaxed laws for unmarried couples seeking the benefits that come with marriage. During the estate planning process, you can create a registered domestic partnership that allows you to reap the following benefits:

  • The option to add a partner to a health insurance plan 
  • The ability for one partner to make health or financial decisions on the other’s behalf if they become incapacitated
  • The ability to adopt unrelated children

2. Estate Planning Covers Asset Division After You Pass

California offers few protections regarding asset divisions if you or your partner declares bankruptcy, passes, or becomes incapacitated. While you could create separate accounts, each partner might face issues during the probate process after one passes. You need estate planning for unmarried couples to ensure your assets and wealth go to your partner after you pass. 

You can create a will to designate assets, though this only covers a few of your bases. You and your partner can also establish joint ownerships on some of your assets to prevent potential problems. Joint ownership will place the surviving spouse as full owner after the other spouse passes. 

3. Trusts Can Help You Avoid Probate and Other Complications

You can jointly title many of your assets or create trusts. Trusts work similarly to wills, designating assets to your beneficiaries, though your loved ones can avoid the lengthy, public court process of probate after you pass. Many types of trusts exist, including revocable and irrevocable, depending on the terms you wish to define. 

4. You Can Define Guardianship Orders 

If you or your partner pass while your children are still minors, you need documents that define who will care for them. If you’re both the birth parents and both pass at a young age, you’ll want to dictate an additional guardian. You may also need to consider other situations, like when only one partner is the biological parent. 

It can be beneficial to thoroughly discuss all possible scenarios and consider the right options for your children. Guardianship plans ensure your children have the proper care if anything happens to you or your partner. 

5. Advance Directives Protect Your Health Care Wishes

Advance directives designate a healthcare proxy, like your partner, to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Many similar documents like this exist, such as powers of attorney. These estate planning tools allow you to protect your financial and health care wishes if anything happens and you can’t make your own decisions. 

Create an Estate Plan To Protect Your Future Today

Call the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo in Woodland Hills, CA, today at (818) 938-8642 to meet with one of our experienced attorneys to begin estate planning for your family.